The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is reporting that antievolution legislation has been introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives. Alabama isn’t known for their progressive attitudes towards the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution given some past events like trying to put the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building and forcing prayer into schools. The bill allows local school districts to give credits to students who attend religious courses.
The sponsor of the bill, Republican Blaine Galliher, has stated that the sole purpose of the legislation is to push an anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationist agenda.
“They teach evolution in the textbooks, but they don’t teach a creation theory,” and “Creation has just as much right to be taught in the school system as evolution does and I think this is simply providing the vehicle to do that.”
Except for the fact that it’s unconstitutional to push a purely religious myth onto students.
Surprisingly, it is legal for public schools to offer religious studies if it meets four very specific conditions:
- There is no evidence that the public schools enforce attendance at the religious schools by punishing absentees from the released time programs with truancy sanctions;
- The school authorities remain neutral about the program and do nothing other than release the students for the religious instruction upon the request of their parents;
- The school authorities do not force or coerce any student to attend the religious instruction; and
- The school authorities do not actually bring the religious instruction into the public school.
This legislation goes further than those 4 conditions by giving actual credit for the course, AND the school district must set the curriculum. I guess Alabama has lots of money to be spent on defending the inevitable lawsuits that they will inevitably lose.